For the last five years, Chase Haney has arguably been Florida State Seminoles baseball’s best — not only on, but off the field.
In all five years he’s been at the school, he’s been named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll. In three seasons, he’s appeared in 30+ games, and held an ERA under 3.00 in four separate seasons.
And, after earning his master’s degree in Sports Management, the model student-athlete will head back to FSU for his sixth year on the diamond.
This fall, Haney spoke with Tomahawk Nation for an exclusive look into his time at FSU and his plans going forward.
Haney arrived in Tallahassee in the fall of 2015, and never could’ve imagined what was ahead of him. Earning a master’s degree, he says, was something he never thought possible, and now it’s something that he’ll now cherish forever.
“It’s something that I never dreamed of doing,” Haney said. “Having two degrees from the best university in the country, that’s the best part about it.”
Haney was a redshirt senior last season, but the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility for all spring athletes after the season was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Windermere native had thoughts about going to pro ball, but ultimately decided on coming back to Florida State for his sixth year of eligibility.
“I don’t want to call it a plan B because it’s just as good as plan A of playing Pro Ball. I’m playing at Florida State. You’re basically playing pro ball. You’re playing against the best competition in the country, coached by the best coaches in the country, and you get to play with some of the best players in the country.”
In his time at Florida State, Haney has been a pillar of community service in the Tallahassee community. In 2019, Haney was named the ‘Mr. Unconquered Seminole’ and this year he was named FSU baseball’s ‘Golden ‘Nole’ by Florida State athletics for his work in the community. FSU’s avenue to the community is one of the main reasons Haney decided to come back.
“I’ve invested so much into the community of Tallahassee and the university has given me so many opportunities to do so and to make my impact greater this next year, was a big player in me coming back to Florida State and kind of just continuing the legacy.”
In 2018, Haney redshirted due to Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL in his throwing arm. During his rehab, he learned to adjust and make the best of the tough situations that approach him — much of Haney’s community work started during that point.
“I’ve become a better person, a better teammate, and a better leader because of the adversity I’ve dealt with early in my career at FSU.”
He says those lessons in adversity and in ups-and-downs have made the last few months easier for him. Despite the TJ surgery and missing a year at Florida State, Haney enters his final year at FSU fifth in career appearances. The sixth-year senior would have to make 30 appearances in 2021 to top Kevin Lynch’s 136 career appearances to become the record holder. That record would have meaning to him, but he’s more focused on the team goals.
“That’d be a cool thing to have in my back pocket, something I’ll be able to tell my kids about and brag about with my buddies on our golf trips here in about 10 years... but the main goal is always to just win games and to get to Omaha and hopefully win the thing.”
Last season, Haney was one of the best relievers in the country. The redshirt senior led the nation in appearances, posted a 1.29 ERA, and held hitters to a .122 average against. He believes the unique offseason he’s had, could make him even better in 2021.
“I really do feel like adjusting to the circumstances has allowed me to transform my body and transform my arm and hopefully come back better next year,” he said.
During his first four years, Haney played under Mike Martin Sr. After one year playing for Mike Martin Jr., he’s “as confident as ever” in the direction of the program. Junior’s leadership was another main reason the RHP is back in Tallahassee. Haney believes Meat has a “great career” ahead of him and wants to be there to help get his program on the right track.
“There’s a lot of unfinished business at Florida State and I want to be a part of it and I want to help lead the team and I want to be there for Meat’s first couple years... He’s taught us a lot about being good students and being good teammates.”
FSU also had a new pitching coach in Jimmy Belanger last season. The third pitching coach of Haney’s career at Florida State, he called Belanger a “blessing” for the program. Haney also mentioned that the two bonded on a deeper level, as they were both born in Kentucky.
“He came in and a lot of guys bought into his philosophies right away. He had a great balance of connecting with us on a deeper level than just a player to coach level. He really cares about you personally,” Haney said.
Before the start of last season, Junior named Haney the captain of FSU’s team. The reliever is ready to fulfill that role for the second time this upcoming season. His ability to lead has come from learning from some of the best players in the country at FSU.
“Being here, I’ve learned from some of the best players and the best leaders that we’ve had. I’ve kind of just implemented a lot of their ways into the way I try to lead a team.”
From those lessons, he’s learned that nobody can be left behind. To him, including the freshmen into things and making sure they know where they’re supposed to be is one of the most important things to do as a leader.
“The way I like to do it is no one’s left out. We’re a team and we’re going to act like a team.”
For Florida State and Haney, the expectations are as high as ever in 2021. Once FSU started playing good defense last year, they looked like a team that couldn’t be stopped. Haney knows if they can stay on track and stay out of their own way, they’re going to do big things in the upcoming season.
“Based off what we did last year towards the end of the year, I think we can make a real run at this National Championship. The only thing holding us back is us. There’s no one that we’re going to play that’s going to be better than us.”
If you told Haney that he would be at FSU for six years when he stepped on campus in 2015, he would’ve never believed you. But this opportunity is something Haney is going to cherish in the 2020-21 season.
“There’s no place I’d rather be at for 6 years than Florida State. The writing’s been on my back the whole time: three plus three equals six.”
When the ‘Noles get back on the diamond in a couple weeks, their captain will be there to help them settle what they couldn’t finish last season.
“It’s just a matter of putting it all together and making a run at the national championship. Like I said before, it’s just unfinished business at Florida State and I want to be a part of it.”